The patient is an ascetically pretty 15½-year-old white female. She is intelligent, fearful, extremely anxious, and depressed. Her rage is poorly controlled and inappropriately expressed. Diagnostic Impression: Program for social recovery in a supportive and structured environment appears favorable. Life Inside In 1967, three months before her sixteenth birthday, Mindy Lewis was sent to a state psychiatric hospital by court order. She had been skipping school, smoking pot, and listening to too much Dylan. Her mother, at a loss for what else to do, decided that Mindy remain in state custody until she turned eighteen and became a legal, law-abiding, "healthy" adult. Life Inside is Mindy's story about her coming-of-age during those tumultuous years. In honest, unflinching prose, she paints a richly textured portrait of her stay on a psychiatric ward -- the close bonds and rivalries among adolescent patients, the politics and routines of institutional life, the extensive use of medication, and the prevalence of life-altering misdiagnoses. But this memoir also takes readers on a journey of recovery as Lewis describes her emergence into adulthood and her struggle to transcend the stigma of institutionalization. Bracingly told, and often terrifying in its truths, Life Inside is a life-affirming memoir that informs as it inspires.
Mindy Lewis is the author of Life Inside: A Memoir, coauthor of A Curious Life: From Rebel Orphan to Innovative Scientist, editor of DIRT: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House, and an award-winning essayist whose work has been published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. She teaches memoir and nonfiction writing at Hudson Valley Writers’ Center and other venues. Visit her website: MindyLewis.com.